‘Let’s go to the beach!’, is that really code for, ‘We can’t sit inside staring at screens for our entire lives, and I don’t have any better ideas’.
I’ve had some unpopular ideas in the past. A tax on sugar, climate change exists, and cafes shouldn’t charge extra for soy milk, but calling beaches overrated could be my most controversial.
Any hot holiday, everyone has the same idea – beach. Although we all know what’s waiting. Crawling along in traffic and circling until you find a spot, like a big stupid land shark. Then it’s a long walk over foot-melting roads, footpaths, gravel and sand, to a minefield of unfortunate bodies covered in worse tattoos, dotted with trash and the uncoordinated diving for balls and frisbees, set to the melody of arguments and music tortured by mobile phone speakers, all reeking of sunscreen and sweat.
Bay beaches are even worse, as the water is a human soup of grease, weeds and band aids, with trash and human trash floating on top, and only those with no sense of balance piloting canoes, kayaks and jetskis.
Last time I was at a bay beach, the lifesavers were out in their surfboats, and I got smacked in the head with an oar. Then two fat ones roared out in a rubber dingy and yelled at me for getting in the way.
There is one thing I like about the beach, and that’s swimming or surfing in the water. Too long without either, I start swimming in my sleep. Depending how much trouble I’m in and where I’m sleeping, that’s very hazardous for my wife, our dog, or the flowers in our front garden.
When I’m done with the water, there are two choices. I leave for food and return, or I leave for food and don’t return. There are people, however, who go to the beach and just sit there, and I understand why you might try it. Thanks to advertising, it’s made out to be one of the most sought after human activities, up there with being attractive, driving a new car, and taking out a short-term loan.
What I don’t understand is why anyone would do it twice. I’m so white, that if I were on a white sand beach and took off my clothes I’d disappear, so any longer than ten minutes in the sun for me results in a burn and worrying about skin cancer until my next yearly checkup. It’s also too bright to read, hot to move, and lumpy just to lie there. Nothing is close enough to be convenient, and if you do bring food and drink, somehow there are sand and bugs in it before it’s even opened, and once home, no matter how thorough your sand removal techniques, that stuff is as ubiquitous and annoying as Taylor Swift, and it’s in the car and bedsheets for months afterwards.
So, next time you choose beach, consider whether you want it, the idea of it, or are just too lazy to come up with anything else. Then if your only other idea is to stay home and stare at a screen while shoving things in your pie hole, choose the beach because getting there and getting home will at least involve some exercise.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.
His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.